Archive for the ‘interviews’ Tag

Recognizing Deeper User Goals

In the process of redesigning our site, we’re putting a lot of effort into connecting with our users’ emotions. Our users are people trying to prevent crime in their schools, communities, and workplaces. We should do more than present information to them, we also need to put that information in context and convey the enormous importance of the work that our users are doing to keep people safe with the resources we provide.

This reaches to the core of our users’ goals. In About Face 3 Alan Cooper gets to the heart of this:

Users’ goals are often quite different from what we might guess them to be. For example, we might think that an accounting clerk’s goal is to process invoices efficiently. This is probably not true. Efficient invoice processing is more likely the goal of the clerk’s employer. The clerk is more likely concentrating on goals like appearing competent at his job and keeping himself engaged with his work while performing routine and repetitive tasks, although he may not verbally (or even consciously) acknowledge this.

In interviews, I’ve spoken with crime prevention practitioners who are using the materials we provide on our site to educate kids and work with law enforcement to help prevent crime. We give them the tools that they need to do their jobs, but there’s also a huge opportunity there to recognize them for keeping people across the country safe, and turning at-risk individuals away from criminal activity. By expressing recognition and gratitude to the people who perform this important work, we can help fulfill their deeper goals – to be appreciated for helping their communities and to be reassured that they’re making a difference (which they are). In turn, they will feel much more engaged by the site.

There are several ways we can attempt to do this:

  1. Highlight images and stories of our crime prevention programs in action.
  2. Emphasize the real impact that crime prevention efforts are having with statistics and examples.
  3. Promote the work that crime prevention practitioners are doing with our help, rather than just promoting what we’re doing.

In my next post I’ll write about how we will meet our users’ goals of communicating, collaborating, and sharing with other practitioners in the field with more interactive and user-generated content combined with some social networking integration.

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Getting Interview Subjects to Talk More

What do you do when you’re interviewing someone, and everything is going swimmingly until you realize that the same answers keep coming out and they’re about 5 words each?

Some people just like to talk more than others – I know I tend to be on the quiet side myself. I’d probably be a terrible interview subject.

So how could someone draw me out without annoying me by asking the same questions over and over?

You’ll need to establish a level of comfort with the subject. This can be very difficult when you’re speaking to them over the phone, especially with all the obligatory things you’ll need to say like “Is it ok if I record this conversation?”

When you first call them up greet them, thank them, and bring up some sort of icebreaker topic. Once you think they’re speaking fluidly you can get started with the real questions.

If they give you a short, blase answer, try asking “Could you tell me a little more about that?”

Elaborate on what they say, paraphrase their answers back to them, and see if that sparks more comments from them.

What suggestions do you have for this problem?

Contextual Interviews vs Regular Interviews

Many user experience practitioners sing the praises of contextual interviews, and with good reason. By traveling to a place where a real user sits and employs your system, and watching them interact with it, you gain insight into their process that you would miss by any other method.

Contextual interviewing can also be expensive with the travel expense of visiting the willing participant and the cost of whatever recording equipment you want to use.

Can the same results be gained by interviewing people over the phone while they use the system? Probably not, but you might come close.

We’re reaching out to some of the users who participated in our surveys and indicated that they’d like to be contacted again to conduct some interviews with us. They’re spread across the country, which we like because our audience is nationwide.

We considered using a remote screen capture tool like TechSmith’s UserVue, and we still might if we feel that we’re missing out on too much data. But for now, we’re going to speak with our participants on the phone while they use our site, and follow along as best we can on our end. Our conference room equipment allows us to record phone conversations, so we’ll be able to keep our interviews for later use.

Note: Always get permission before recording a phone conversation.